Volkswagen Polo GTI Review

Strong GTI image boosts appeal

October 2006

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Overall rating

3.5 out of 5 stars


  • GTI styling improves the Polo shape
  • Five door option welcome in this class
  • Solid build quality is reassuring
  • Strong GTI image boosts appeal


  • Handling is secure but not as entertaining as rivals
  • Dark interior is not saved by checked seats
  • Stereo system with sat nav is complicated
  • Engine is powerful enough but lacks sparkle
Volkswagen has added its most iconic badge to its supermini to create the most desirable Polo yet in the form of the GTI. With dynamic, mechanical and cosmetic changes designed to ensure it lives up to the legend, can it be a true baby brother to the Golf GTI?

Following the introduction of the revised Polo range in late 2005, Volkswagen has crowned the range with an all-new GTI. Like previous Polo GTIs and other Volkswagen models, this version aims to combine the comfort and usability of the regular car while adding a new dimension of performance and handling, making it the most desirable Polo and to compete with a range of performance superminis.

From the outside the Polo has clearly taken a number of cues from its dynamic bigger brother, the Golf GTI. The distinguishing features are the honeycomb grille, spoked alloy wheels, twin tail pipes, red brake callipers and discreet GTI badging, all of which also appear on the Golf.

Mechanically there are significant changes too. For the first time, the Polo GTI uses a turbocharged engine, a 1.8-litre unit found elsewhere in the VW Group range of cars. In this installation it is tuned to provide a competitive power output and a wide torque curve to maximise acceleration. Other changes include the uprated braking system and suspension revisions.

Inside there are subtle changes to distinguish the GTI from lesser Polos, including checked sports seats which hark back to earlier GTI models from Volkswagen, plus a chunky three spoke steering wheel which also shows influence from the larger Golf.

Our verdict on the Volkswagen Polo GTI
The Polo GTI builds on the qualities of the regular car, adding improved styling, performance and desirability, but as a hot supermini it falls a little behind the leaders of the pack. As an ownership prospect it is likely to be very satisfying, but ultimately it is not as fun to drive as its rivals, nor its bigger brother.